Saturday, September 05, 2009

Blog DVD Review: Heroes - Season 3 (9/1)

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the weekly Blog DVD Reviews. This week we take a look at Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Heroes - Season 3. Villains will rise. Heroes will fall. Destiny will be redefined. See my Blog DVD review of Heroes - Season 3:

Heroes - Season 3

Heroes: Season 3 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $59.98)

Experience all the explosive action and shocking twists as Heroes - Season 3 comes to DVD! Rediscover the phenomenon in this six-disc set that includes all 25 suspenseful episodes from the third season's volumes, Villains and Fugitives. Plus, go behind the secenes with the show's writers, stars and artists as you explore hours of exclusive and revealing bonus features.

Season 3 began with a two-hour event on September 22, 2008. The first 13 episodes were part of the Villains volume, while episodes 14-25 were the Fugitives volume. Cristine Rose, who portrays Angela Petrelli, became a main character this season after being a recurring character in the first two seasons. New characters included Flint Gordon, Jr. (played by Blake Shields), Puppet Master (Eric Doyle), The Speedster/Daphne Millbrook (Brea Grant) and Usutu (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine). Ali Larter played the new character Tracy Strauss, Niki's triplet sister with the power to freeze objects with a touch.

The packaging is very stylish and similar to the previous seasons. The holofoil outer slip cover has a photo of 11 of the characters with Sylar, Hiro and Claire being in the foreground. An embossed Heroes title logo is at the top. On the back of the slip cover, there is a short synopsis of the set and a listing of the special features. The main digipak packaging slides out from the left of the outer slip cover. The Heroes logo is on the cover. Episode summaries and the special features are listed for discs four-six on the back cover. Opening the digipak, there are listings for discs one-three. There are photos of the cast and drawings underneath the tray which holds the discs. The plastic clips that held discs 1, 3 and 5 were broken on my set so the discs slide around. The discs have a red background and the Heroes logo on them.

The anamorphic widescreen menus are attractive and easy to navigate. The main menu opens with the familiar Earth spinning Heroes logo. That leads to about a minutes worth of video clips in circles with some great instrumental music by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman playing in the background. There are options for Play All, Chapter Index, Bonus Materials and Set Up. The Chapter Index menu features still images from the episodes where you can play the episode by itself, with commentary or view the deleted scenes. The Bonus Materials have a still image of a cast member and another music cue. The Set Up menus feature different photos of the cast. You can choose the audio commentaries from here. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Espanol and Francais. Closed captioninig is not available. Chapter stops are available but no scene selection menus are offered. When you first insert disc 1, there is a series of previews (5:56) for some other Universal tv shows and movies which you can play or skip.

Moving on to the video and audio, the quality is excellent. The episodes are presented in their original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are vibrant and clean. The picture is very sharp and detailed. Some of the night time scenes can look a little grainy, but that can be expected. Overall, the lighting is excellent and the outdoor scenes are beautifully shot. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, with running times of 41-43 minutes in length. They have the "Previously On" Heroes openings as originally broadcast. The overall running time of the set is approximately 17 hours, 53 minutes. The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track and sounds great. I didn't notice any major problems on the episodes I've watched so far. The dialogue is at a good volume and easy to understand. I love the music score by Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman and other sound effects that are used in the episodes. Subtitles are available in English, French and spanish. The bonus features are not rated and not all are subtitled.

Over 20 hours of bonus features are included. Audio commentaries by the cast and crew are available on all 25 episodes. 36 deleted scenes from 15 episodes are included and run approximately 36 minutes. It would have been interesting to have commentary on these to learn why these scenes were cut. A nice mixture of featurettes are spread out over the discs. Here is the breakdown by disc:

Disc One
--------
Deleted Scenes
The Second Coming (:36) - Sylar Telekinetically Moves Mr. Muggles
The Buttefly Effect (:14) - Suresh Lifts Heavy Object
One of Use, One of Them (3 Scenes) - Micah at Funeral (:28), Original Movie Theatre Scene (1:13), Claire Gets Primatech Box (:21)
I Am Become Death (5 Scenes) - Nathan Comes to Angela's Office (1:41), Daphne and Matt Argue (1:51), Sylar Can't Save Son (1:57), Maya and Suresh Go Out (1:28), Linderman Appears (1:35)

The Super Powers of Heroes (8:02) - Stunt Coordinator Tim Gilbert gives insight to designing the hard hitting stunts of Heroes. He talks about how various sequences were done like the airplane scene, Suresh's bug-like power, the black hole vortex and Claire falling out of the iwndow. He also talks a little about the cast and working on the show in general. Stunt Utility Lance Gilbert is also briefly interviewed.

Audio Commentaries
The Second Coming - Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Executive Producer/Episode Director Allan Arkush and Series Star Adrian Pasdar
The Buttefly Effect - Executive Producer/Director Greg Beeman and Series Stars James Kyson Lee & Brea Grant
One of Us, One of Them - Series Stars Cristine Rose & Milo Ventimaglia
I Am Become Death - Series Stars Greg Grunberg & Jamie Hector

Disc Two
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Deleted Scenes
Angela and Monsters (3 Scenes) - Nathan Tells Tracy About Dr. Zimmerman (1:30), Linderman Makes Knox An Offer He Can't Refuse (:44), Angela Awakens (:12)
Dying of the Light (3 Scenes) - Suresh About to Operate on Tracy and Nathan (1:35), Claire and Mom Talk (1:04), Ando and Hiro Wake Up in Usutu's Camp (:59)
Villains (5 Scenes) - Matt Wants Knox to Quit Gang (:59), Knox Asks to Sit Out of Robbery (1:32), Knox Is Seen Talking to Matt (1:28), Knox Kills Gang Leader (1:52), Matt Stops Knox in Car (:51)

Completing the Scene (7:54) - An overall look at the visual style of Heroes Season Three is discussed, including the tricks used on set and in post-production. This featurette includes interviews with Lead Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Grenaudier, Supervising Producer Mark Spatny, Visual Effects Supervisor Jason Sperling, 3D Artist Mike Enriquez, Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush, Compositing Supervisor Supervisor Chris Martin, Compositor Ryan Wieber, 3D Animator Daniel Kumiega, 3D Animator Michael Cook and Compositor Meliza Ferman. They talk about how every episode is compltely different, how they conceptualize visuals at meetings, how they did the scene of Claire shooting the bullet, the cold snap episode with ice, the invisible effects, the new abilities of the Heroes and the Tokyo earthquake destruction scene.

Audio Commentaries
Angels and Monsters - Episode Director Anthony Hemingway and Co-Executive Producers Adam Armus & Kay Foster
Dying of the Light - Series Star Sendhil Ramamurthy and Co-Writers Christopher Zatta and Chuck Kim
Eris Quod Sum - Director of Photography Charlie Lieberman, Editor Scott Boyd and Series Star Jason Kyson Lee
Villains - Executive Prdoucer/Episode Director Allan Arkush and Series Star Jack Coleman

Disc Three
----------
Deleted Scenes
It's Coming - Tracy Tells Nathan About Her Connection to Pineheart (:36)
The Eclipse: Part I - Nathan Must Find the Haitian to Stop His Father (1:17)
Our Father (4 Scenes) - Arthur Reads Suresh's Mind (:57), Nathan Disturbed (:45), Arthur takes Molly's Ability (:33), Angela and HRD Find Claire (:25)

The Prop Box (5:37) - Introduction to the "Gold Room" where all of the props used for Heroes are stored. Relics from the first season to the present are shown and the methods of a prop master are revealed. Assistant Set Prop Master James Clark talks about his job and gives a tour of the Gold Room. I think it's very interesting how they hold on to everything in case they need to re-use it in a later episode. Maps by Property Assistant Reba Rosenthal, paintings by Tim Sale and various swords are among the many props shown.

Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art (1:16) - Various paintings are shown with a music cue playing in the background.

Pineheart Commercial (:41) - Pinehearst is a biotechnology company with connections to evolved humans.

Audio Commentaries
It's Coming - Series Star Blake Shields and Director of Photography Charlie Lieberman
The Eclipse: Part I - Executive Producers Episode Director Greg Beeman and Series Star Sendhil Ramamurthy
The Eclipse: Part II - Series Stars Cristine Rose & Greg Grunberg
Our Father - Series Stars Masi Oka & Brea Grant

Disc Four
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Deleted Scenes
Trust and Blood (2 Scenes) - Suresh and Matt Buy Weapons (:19), Ando and Hiro Are Going to India (:59)

Alternate Stories
Heroes: Going Postal (10:12 - 3 Chapters) - The trilogy of online-only videos introduces Echo DeMille, a seemingly ordinary mailman with an extraordinary ability.
Nowhere Man (18:11 - 4 Chapters) - This webseries focuses on the life of Eric Doyle.

Audio Commentaries
Dual - Series Star Zachary Quinto and Special Effects Supervisor Gary D'Amico
A Clear and Present Danger - Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring and Series Stars Milo Ventimiglia & Greg Yaitanes
Trust and Blood - Executive Producer/Episode Director Allan Arkush and Writer Mark Verheiden
Building 26 - Art Director Sandy Getzler and Production Designer Ruth Ammon

Disc Five
---------
Deleted Scene
Exposed - HRG Comes Up With Plan (:23)

Genetics of a Scene (20:31) - An ongoing service in which the episode's director and cast give an in-depth look at the production process.
Exploring Claire's Mind (5:34) - This segment reveals the graphic scene of the Heroes Season Three opener. Optic Nerve demonstrates the props designed for the scene "Stylar steals Claire's powers." Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush, Special Makeup Effects Artist Glenn Hetrick, Special Makeup Effects Artist Rich Mayberry and Special Makeup Effects Artist Mark Vinielle. Some pretty graphic footage of the open brain gag scene, the body cast on Glenn and Claire's open heart scene are shown.
Speedster Steals the Formula (6:12) - Allan Arkush highlights directing the Speedsters' speed effects and the time stopping qualities of Hiro. The segment features on-set footage of Daphne and Hiro and how their powers collide. Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush and Compositing Editor Chris Martin are interviewed. They talk about how a new character was brought in to play off Hiro and Ando, how Brea Grant was cast, developing her power and how they did the frozen in time effects.
Throwing Thoughts (3:54) - A quick, fun look at the shooting style used to create a specific scene from Episode 322. Director Jeannot Szwarc reveals the camera tricks used to create the visual look when Matt thinks for the villain Danko. Greg Grunberg, Director Jeannot Szwarc and Cinematographed Nate Goodman are interviewed.
Lights, Camera, Beeman (4:54) - This fast pace segment features George Beeman working on set. Fun on-set footage is used to demonstrate the sometimes-frantic shooting schedule of Heroes. It focuses on episode 325 - "An Invisible Thread" and shows scenes 7, 10 and 13.

The Writers' Forum - Creator Forum (13:25) - Creator Tim Kring and selected writers/producers discuss the story-lines of Season 3, outling inspirations for character developments, story polts and the changes that took place along the way. Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Writer/Co-Executive Producer Adam Armus and Writer/Supervising Producer Aron Eli Coleite participate in this sit-down discussion. They talk about the big ideas of the season, the good vs. evil and how the characters decide which side, Peter vs. Sylar, Sylar and his father, introducing Arthur Petrelli, actor Robert Forster and Arthur's ability, the Villains and Fugitives volumes and wrapping up the season.

Audio Commentaries
Cold Wars - Series Stars Jack Coleman & Sendhil Ramamurthy
Exposed - Series Stars Milo Ventimiglia & Greg Grunberg
Shades of Gray - Series Star David H. LAwrence XVII and Script Coordinator Oliver Grigsby
Cold Snap - Writer Bryan Fuller and Series Star Masi Oka

Deleted Scenes
Into Asylum (3 Scenes) - Micah Questions HRG's Motives (1:50), Peter Flies Into Church (:40), Nathan and Claire Battle Frat Boys (:45)
Turn and Face the Strange (2 Scenes) - Hiro and Ando Fix the Car (:47), Suresh Asks Landlord About His Father (1:00)
I Am Sylar - Hiro and Ando Discuss Building 26 (:56)

Audio Commentaries
Into Asylum - Director of Photography Nate Goodman and Co-Producer Joe Pokaski
Turn and Face the Strange - Writers Mark Verheiden & Rob Fresco
1961 - Editor Jon Koslowsky and Director Adam Kane
I Am Sylar - Director of Photography Nate Goodman and Co-Executive Producers Kay Foster & Adam Armus
An Invisible Thread - Director of Photography Charlie Liberman and Editor Donn Aron

Final Comments: After a disappointing strike-shortened season, Heroes came back with a much stronger effort in season three. Having a full season to continue develop the characters and storylines was a big plus. The second volume of the season, Fugitives, was a bit better as there were fewer characters and plotlines to follow. While the show may have not captured the magic of the first season, there is still a lot I like about the show. Visually the show has always looked great. The visual and special effects are great. There is a lot of action and stunts. I'm a big fan of the music by Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. The main cast members, recurring characters and guest stars are strong.

Overall, this is another excellent set that die-hard and new fans of the show will be sure to enjoy. If you enjoy listening to commentaries, you will love this set. There is a nice mix of cast and crew who participate on them. It's a little disappointing that the beauties Hayden Panettiere and Ali Larter weren't involved on any of them. The deleted scenes and alternate stories/online webisodes are fun to see for the first time. I haven't kept up with what's available on nbc.com . The featurettes are at a good length and give some interesting insight on how the episodes are made. I'm hoping that season four will continue in the direction of the last part of season three. Tune in for the two-hour fourth season premiere on Monday, September 21 on NBC!

-- Reviewed by Todd
(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0024FAD9C/ref=nosim/happydaysonline5-20

Also available on Blu-ray

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Heroes Official Site
Heroes TV.com Page
Heroes Internet Movie Database Page
Heroes Wikipedia Page

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mini-DVD Review: Heroes - Season 2 (Aug. 26)

Our regular weekly ratings report will return next week.

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of mini-DVD reviews! Today we look at Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Heroes - Season 2. Watch the Emmy nominated show and experience all the new and exciting twists of the astonishing series in this 4-disc set that includes every gripping season two episode. Rejoin the epic phenomenon as Heroes - Season 2 arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on August 26, 2008. See my mini-DVD review of Heroes - Season 2:

Heroes - Season 2

Heroes: Season 2 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $39.98)

This 4-disc set includes all 11 episodes from the second season which ran from September-December 2007. The second season premiered on NBC on September 24, 2007. New characters this season included Dania Ramirez as Maya Herrera, Shalim Ortiz as Alejandro Herrera, David Anders as Adam Monroe/Takezo Kensei, Kristen Bell as Elle Bishop and Dana Davis as Monica Dawson. Joining the main cast this season were Zachary Quinto as Sylar and James Kyson Lee as Ando Masahashi.

The packaging of this set is, once again, very stylish. The outer slip cover has a black background and an embossed Heroes title logo. The holofoil cover art has a photo of 10 cast members (none of the new characters) and the city in the background. On the back of the slip cover, there is a synopsis of the set and a listing of the special features. The main digipak packaging slides out from the left of the outer slip cover. The Heroes logo is on the front of the digipak. Opening the digipak, the episodes and special features for discs one and two are listed. There are two of the comic-style drawings at the bottom. Discs three and four information are listed on the back of the packaging. Inside the digipak, there are blue-tinted photos of the cast members. The discs have a blue background and the Heroes logo on them.

The anamorphic menus are attractive and easy to navigate. They open with a series of video clips in 3 different circles/bubbles. Some instrumental score from the series is played in the background for about a minute before it loops. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for "Play All," "Chapter Index," "Bonus Material" and "Languages." When you select Chapter Index, it takes you to a sub-menu where there is a still image from the episode in a circle. A partial Heroes logo is in the background. Discs 1-3 have 3 episodes, while disc 4 has 2. You can play the episodes by themselves, view the deleted scenes or listen to the commentary from this menu. On the Languages menu, there are different invividual photos of the cast members. You can turn on the English SDH, French or Spanish subitles in this section. More photos of the cast members can be found on the Bonus Material menus. Chapter stops are available within the episodes but no separate scene selection menus are offered. When you first insert disc 1, there are Previews which you can play or skip directly to the main menu.

Moving on to the video and audio quality, the excellence is continued. The set is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are vibrant and clean. The picture is very sharp and detailed. Some of the night time scenes can look a little grainy, but that can be expected. Overall, the lighting is excellent and the outdoor scenes are beautifully shot. These episodes look even better than how they were originally broadcast. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, running around 41-43 minutes in length. They have the "Previously On" Heroes openings as originally broadcast. The first episode of the second season was a bit extended and ran 52 minutes, 33 seconds. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the original music had to be replaced. The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I didn't notice any major problems on the episodes I've watched so far. The dialogue is at a good volume and easy to understand. I love the music score by Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman and other sound effects that are used in the episodes. Subtitles are available in English, French and spanish. The bonus features are not rated and not all are subtitled.

There is a nice mixture of special features spread out over the 4 discs. The best extras are the audio commentaries by the cast and crew on all 11 episodes. I haven't had a chance to listen to all of them yet, but they offer a lot of interesting trivia and behind the scenes details. Other special features include 17deleted scenes, Heroes Season 2 "A New Beginning" featurette, Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint featurette, The Drucker Files featurette, Genetics of a Scene featurette, season 3 sneak peek, Generations alternate ending, Inside the Alternate ending of Generations, Untold Stories that never aired, NBC.com featurettes and a gallery of Tim Sale's screen art.

Here is a breakdown of the special features by disc:

Disc 1
------
1. Four Months Later...
Deleted Scenes - I Too Have a Special Ability (2:20); Petrellis Don't Deserve to be Saved (2:26)
Audio Commentary with Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Co-Executive Producer Jeph Loeb and Series Star Coleman

2. Lizards
Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Allan Arkush, Series Star Greg Grunberg and Co-Executive Producer Michael Green

3. Kindred
Audio Commentary with Episode Director Paul Edwards, Co-Executive Producer JJ Phillbin and Series Star Zachary Quinto

Heroes Season 2 "A New Beginning" (14:40) - Tim Kring introduces us to the theme of "extraordinary people trying to live normal lives." Go behind the scenes with the cast and crew to see what it's like coming back to a hit show and also meet new Heroes as they share anecdotes about filming the second season. Interviews include Masi Oka, Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Ali Larter, Sendil Ramamurthy, Zacharay Quinto, Milo Ventimiglia, David Anders, Dania Ramirez, Shalim Ortiz, Kristen Bell, Nicholas D'Agosto, Dana Davis, Noah Gray-Cabey and Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush. This is sort of a preview of the second season and doesn't really detail what happened later in the season. There probably won't be anything new for die-hard fans, but it will provide a good overview for new watchers.

Disc 2
------
4. The Kindness of Strangers
Audio Commentary with Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring and Series Stars Dana Davis & Adrian Pasdar

5. Fight or Flight
Deleted Scenes - Look, Yako - He Had It All Along (1:39); And She Hit Me Hard (1:28); I'm the Only Normal Person in this Family (:38); You Think I Don't Know You Hiro (2:06), Don't Thank Me Yet (:58)
Audio Commentary with Series Star Greg Grunberg and Executive Producer Greg Beeman

6. The Line
Deleted Scenes - So It Does Run in the Family (1:54); To Fight Alongside the Great Takezo Kensei (1:40); No More Tazer Kidnapping (1:33)
Audio Commentary with Co-Executive Producers Adam Armus & Kay Foster and Series Star Jack Coleman

Takezo Kensei: Sword Saint (23:48) - This featurette is divided into 5 chapters: The Battle of 12 Swords, The Trial of the Fire Scroll, The Trial of the Hidden Fortress, Kensei and the Dragon (Parts 1 and 2)) and The Mystery of Kensei. This is a History channel-style documentary on the character. It is pretty elaborate with a narrator, experts being interviewed, background music and a lot of drawings.

The Drucker Files (8:32) - This is a news report by Global News Interactive on Richard Drucker, the Godfather of the internet.

Disc 3
------
7. Out of Time
Deleted Scenes - Get Down From There (1:40); She Can Find Peter (1:03)
Audio Commentary with Episode Director Daniel Attias and Series Star Masi Oka

8. Four Months Ago...
Deleted Scenes - Happy Birthday, Micah (:50); There Is No Need to Cry, Child (1:11); I'm Not O.K. Do I Look O.K.? (1:43)
Audio Commentary with Series Star Milo Ventimiglia and Executive Producer Greg Beeman

9. Cautionary Tales
Deleted Scenes - I Will Bring Him to Justice (:20); I Laughed So Hard Chocolate Milk Came Out of My Nose (1:07)
Audio Commentary with Episdoe Director Greg Yaitanes and Series Stars Kristen Bell & Ashley Crow

Genetics of a Scene (23:14)
2. Lizards - Executive Producer/Director Allan Allan Arkush discusses the shooting of 17th century Japan and how they made it look rural. He talks about the cherry blossoms and the sword fight scenes with Eriko Tamura (Yaeko).
1. Four Months Later... - Executive Producer/Director Greg Beeman talks about how they shot the introduction of Maya and Alejandro. They shot it with a handheld camera and made it documentary style. Dania Ramirez is also interviewed.
8. Four Months Ago... - Executive Producer/Director Greg Beeman talks about the scene of Peter and Nathan flying out of New York and Peter exploding. He talks about the storyboards, how they shot it with green screen and how they did the digital burns.
11. Powerless - Executive Producer/Director Allan Arkush discusses the set of Isaac's loft which was turned into a lab. Zachary Quinto is also interviewed.

Disc 4
------
10. Truth & Consequences
Audio Commentary with Episode Director Adam Kane and Series Star Stephen Tobolowsky

11. Powerless
Audio Commentary with Executive Producer Allan Arkush and Composers Lisa Coleman & Wendy Melvoin

Season 3 Sneak Peek (8:37) - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the third season premiere episode. Interviews include Dania Ramirez, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Ali Larter, Greg Grunberg and Jack Coleman.

Generations Alternate Ending - (17:59) This is from what turned out to be the final episode of the season. Because of the strike, they had to alter the ending and this shows what happens if Peter didn't catch the virus. This includes some temporary vfx. The alternate ending is called lost footage and they weren't able to repurpose it, as they are going with a different storyline at the start of season 3.

Inside the Alternate Ending of Generations (10:57) - Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Executive Producer Jeph Loeb and Co-Executive Producer/Writer Jesse Alexander discuss the alternate ending and detail episodes 11-13. They talk a little about what they were planning for the next 6-8 episodes. Episodes 11-13 had been shot. They talk about the viral outbreak idea and Maya's ability.

Untold Stories (12:13) - This is some footage of scenes that never aired. Like the alternate ending, there is some temporary sfx and scenes that were not finished. It is divided into 6 sections: Teaser (4:28), Act 1 (1:08), Act 2 (:32), Act 3 (2:08), Act 4 (:218), Act 5 (from episode 213) (1:41)

NBC.com Featurettes
Hotel Gurintihain Explosion (:43)
Maya y Alejandro Viral Video (2:31)
Nathan and Peter Brooklyn Cam (:34)

Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art (2:02) - Screen art is shown with music being played in the background.

Previews (6:42)
Battle Star Galactica, Coach, Eureka, The Incredible Hulk, Murder She Wrote, Northern Exposure, Quantum Leap, The Rockford Files, The A-Team/Knight Rider/Magnum P.I.

Final Comments: This is a pretty nicely produced set, although it can't match the season 1 release. The highlights of this set are the audio commentaries on every episode by the cast and crew. Even if you've already seen all of the episodes, they will add some new insights into the making of the episodes. I also enjoyed the Genetics of a Scene featurette which went into some detail on how they made scenes from four different episodes.

I was a huge fan of the first season, but the show went into a bit of a sophomore slump in season two. A lot of this was because of the writer's strike. No other show as probably more affected. They were only able to produce 11 episodes. I also think they added a few too many new characters and the pace was too slow at the start of the season. It would have been very interesting to see how the second half of the season would have played out with the viral outbreak idea. We will never know now, since they are going into a different direction at the start of season three. Hopefully they can get some of the magic and excitement back of the first season. If you gave up on season two, maybe you will want to give season three another try. The promos have looked very good. Watch the season three premiere on NBC on September 22, 2008. Chime in!

-- Reviewed by Todd
(4/5 stars)

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

A Blu-ray version is also being released on the same day. Purchase it here.

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Heroes Official Site
Heroes TV.com Page
Heroes Internet Movie Database Page
Heroes Wikipedia Page

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

TV Land December 2007 Highlights; Heroes Reruns to G4 and Mojo

I mentioned the other day that TV Land will start The Beverly Hillbillies in December. They will not now. It was slated for a marathon on Dec. 22 and regular play starting Dec. 25, but that will be moved to January now. We do however get a Christmas episode on Christmas Eve!
There are no schedule changes (yet...), but we have some notable events. Christmas comes early to TV Land this year and yule love Thursday when TV Land features Christmas episodes from your favorite shows! Dec 6, 13 and 20 from 8-10pm catch The Jeffersons, Andy Griffith, Good Times, All in the Family M*A*S*H, and Three's Company in holiday episodes.
And if that is not enough holiday episodes for you, TV Land will have not one but two 24-hour Merry-thons! Could the holidays be as merry without TV Land's annual Merry-thon? Christmas spirit, eggnog and your favorite TV friends means a jolly good time all around! Tune in to TV Land's 8th Annual Merrython featuring classic Christmas episodes of shows like Good Times, Three's Company, The Jeffersons, Andy Griffith, and so much more!
Weekends at 5PM, TV Land will encore originals that had countdowns, like 100 Most Unexpected Television Moments and Greatest TV Quotes & Catchphrases.
Finally, the Friday night movies include Thelma & Louise, Wallstreet, and Running Scared.
For complete episode details and more on December, click HERE! Ho ho ho!

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has sold hit NBC primetime series Heroes to cable networks G4 and MOJO for its debut in off-network syndication. The multi-season strip deals with G4 and MOJO debut in fall 2010, and include a repurpose window of current season episodes the week following NBC's initial airings starting later this month.
G4 will debut Heroes with all-day marathons of season one episodes on Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28. The network will begin airing episodes from the current season with a mini-marathon of the first six episodes of Heroes season two on Saturday, November 3 from 5:00-11:00pm et/pt. G4 will then regularly air each week's current episode of Heroes on Saturdays at 10:00pm et/pt.
Heroes will premiere on MOJO Thursday, November 1, airing the first six episodes of season two from 3- 9:00 pm et. Going forward, Heroes will air on MOJO every week on Wed. at 8pm pt/11:00 pm et and Thurs. at 5pm pt/8pm et. MOJO will also air a marathon of season one episodes during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tonight sitcom wise we have NBC's Comedy Done Right block with My Name is Earl, 30 Rock and yet another hour-long The Office. All starts at 8/7 central on NBC!

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: Heroes - Season 1 (Aug. 28)

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of mini-DVD reviews! Today we look at Universal Studios Home Entertainment's Heroes. Ordinary people with extraordinary abilities link a group of complete strangers that may determine the future of the world when Heroes - Season 1 comes to DVD and HD DVD August 28, 2007. Nominated for eight Emmy Awards including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series (Masi Oka), Heroes - Season 1 is the most acclaimed and addictive new series of the 2006-2007 television season. See my mini-DVD review of Heroes - Season 1:

Heroes - Season 1

Heroes: Season 1 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $59.98)

Discover the phenomenon that is sweeping audiences everywhere as Heroes: Season 1 comes to DVD! Experience the suspense, mystery, and electrifying twists as this astonishing series follows seemingly unconnected, ordinary people around the globe who discover they have extraordinary powers. As they come to terms with their unique abilities, their risky decisions will affect the futures of everyone around them ... and the world. Join their epic journey in this seven-disc set packed with hours of fascinating and revealing bonus features, including the never-before-aired series premiere from show creator Tim Kring.

Created by Tim Kring ("Providence," "Crossing Jordan"), Heroes features an extraordinary ensemble cast that includes Sendhil Ramamurthy (Blind Guy Driving), Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls"), Adrian Pasdar ("Judging Amy"), Hayden Panettiere (Bring It On: All Or Nothing), Ali Larter (Final Destination), Noah Gray-Cabey ("My Wife & Kids"), Leonard Roberts ("Smallville"), Santigo Cabrera ("Empire"), Tawny Cypress (NBC's "Third Watch"), Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), Masi Oka (NBC's "Scrubs"), Jack Coleman ("Dynasty"), James Kyson Lee (NBC's "Las Vegas"), Zachary Quinto ("24"), Ashley Crow (NBC's "American Dreams"), Cristine Rose (NBC's "Friends"), Jimmy Jean-Louis (Monster-in-Law), Eric Roberts ("Less Than Perfect") and Malcolm McDowall ("Entourage").

This 7-disc set has some very stylish packaging. The outer slip cover has a black background and an embossed Heroes title logo. On the back of the slip cover, there is a synopsis of the set, a listing of the nearly 3 hours of bonus features, and a painting of the destruction of New York City. The main Digipak packaging slides out from the left of the outer slip cover. It features a nice photo of the 11 main cast members on a city street. Short summaries of the episodes and the DVD extras are listed for discs 5-7 on the back of packaging. Inside the Digipak, discs 1-4 are listed. Since there are so many deleted scenes and audio commentaries, the listings aren't incredibly detailed. I think they could have used an icon to note which episodes have commentaries. All but a few of the episodes have deleted scenes. The 7 discs are held in clear plastic holders. Underneath the holders, there are various color paintings and black & white photos of the cast. The discs are very plain looking with just the Heroes logo and disc number on them.

The menus are very attractive and easy to navigate. The main menu opens with Earth and the Heroes logo. That leads to Isaac's loft and his paintings. The camera zooms in on to them to show the scenes from the actual episode. The opening theme and music from the show is heard in the background. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for "Play All," "Chapter Index," "Bonus Materials," and "Languages" on each disc. A red splatter icon is next to the option that you highlight that turns orange upon your selection. Comic book drawings are featured on all of the sub-menus. When you select "Chapter Index," it takes you to a sub-menu where there are 1-2 episodes listed per screen. You have the option of playing the deleted scenes and commentaries from these menus, or you can find more detailed information on them on the "Bonus Materials" menus. There is a Play All button on those menus where you can play all of the deleted on each disc together. From the "Languages" menu, you can play the commentaries or turn on the English SDH, French or Spanish subtitles. Chapter stops are available within the episodes but no separate scene selection menus are offered. When you first insert disc 1, there are Previews which you can play or skip directly to the main menu.

Moving on to the video and audio quality, the excellence is continued. The set is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are vibrant and clean. The picture is very sharp and detailed. Some of the night time scenes can look a little grainy, but that can be expected. Overall, the lighting is excellent and the outdoor scenes are beautifully shot. These episodes look even better than how they were originally broadcast. All of the episodes appear to be unedited, running around 43-44 minutes in length. They have the "Previously On" Heroes openings as originally broadcast. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the original music had to be replaced. The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. I didn't notice any major problems on the episodes I've watched so far. The dialogue is at a good volume and easy to understand. I love the music score and other sound effects that are used in the episodes. Subtitles are available in English, French and spanish. The bonus features are not rated and not all are subtitled.

Nearly 3 hours of bonus features are included. They will blow you away! There is the original, unaired, extended 73-minute pilot episode with optional audio commentary. Besides the original pilot commentary, there are 12 additional commentaries by the cast and crew. 50 Deleted and Extended Scenes are offered for all but 4 of the episodes. Most of them were probably cut for pacing and time. Five featurettes are found on disc 7. I will break the extras down by disc.

Disc 1
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Unaired Pilot: The Tim Kring Cut - This is the full 73 uninterrupted minute version of the original, unaired, extended pilot episode, as Heroes' creator Tim Kring first envisioned it. It features an unseen character, Omid, and a terrorist storyline. It also introduced the Matt Parkman character. If this original pilot ever aired, it surely would have been a 2-hour premiere. Due to review deadlines, this was the only commentary I've been able to listen to so far in its entirety. It is a very good one. Tim Kring covers many different topics, such as the technical aspects of filming, shooting locations, effects shots and how they did them, the terrorist storyline and why it was nixed, Parkman's wife being recast, Sylar's silhouetted introduction, and how various scenes were reshot for the final broadcast version. There are additional deleted and exteneded scenes from the pilot available in the deleted scenes section.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:22)
1. Genesis - 8 Scenes - DL Escapes From His Cell (:24), Meant For Something Special (:30), Simone's Breaking Point (1:43), The Only Way Out (1:33), DL's Promise (:29),
The Terrorist (:47), Time's Up (:31), Micah Saves His Dad (:50)
2. Don't Look Back - 4 Scenes - A Spark Ignites (:40), Niki's Mistake (:31), Behind Niki's Garage Door (1:57), Blood on the Map (:34)

Disc 2
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Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:45)
3. One Giant Leap - 2 Scenes - Hiro's Book of Revelations (1:45), Niki Confronts Her Mother-in-Law (2:34)
4. Collision - 2 Scenes - The You That Ain't You (:13), Micah's Plea (:40)
5. Hiros - 3 Scenes - Claire's Miracle (:37), Strangers In Our Own Home (:56), Brody's Cheer (1:02)

Disc 3
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Deleted and Extended Scenes (16:02)
7. Nothing to Hide - 8 Scenes - Matt's Voices (:42), Tough Love (:55), Nathan's Paternity Suit (2:28), You Can't Tell Anyone (:55), Stakeout (:36), Claire the Freak (2:09), Jessica Gets Her Gun (:47), Lyle's Secret (1:09)
8. Seven Minutes to Midnight - 3 Scenes - Appearances Can Be Deceiving (1:14), Eden's New Life (:47), Matt and Janice Reminisce (:54)
9. Homecoming - 1 Scene - The Battle For Claire (1:00)
10. Six Months Ago - 2 Scenes - Dad Is Dead (1:43), Jessica Takes Care of Busines (:50)

Disc 4
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Deleted and Extended Scenes (7:14)
11. Fallout - 1 Scene - Mohinder's Discovery (1:46)
12. Godsend - 2 Scenes - Claire's Media Moment (:26), Peter's Awakening (1:29)
13. The Fix - 1 Scene - The Dishonest Plumber (1:20)
14. Distractions - 3 Scenes - A Shock to the System (:19), You're My Business (:38), Niki's Homecoming (1:19)

Commentary on "Godsend" by Jack Coleman, Leonard Roberts and Sendhil Ramamurthy

Commentary on "The Fix" by Greg Grunberg, Hayden Panettiere and Natalie Chaidez (Episode Writer & Co-Executive Producer)

Commentary on "Distractions" by Milo Ventimiglia, Zachary Quinto, Greg Grunberg, Jeanot Szwarc (Episode Director), Jack Coleman and Michael Green (Episode Writer and Co-Executive Producer)

Disc 5
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Deleted and Extended Scenes (6:00)
15. Run! - 3 Scenes - Mr. Bennet's Phone Calls (:27), Janice Panics (1:26), The Haitian's Talent (1:35)
17. Company Man - 3 Scenes - Generation Gap (:53), The Cover-up (:42), Thompson's Mandate (:14)
18. Parasite - 1 Scene - Lonely Wolf (:47)

Commentary on "Run!" by Greg Grunberg, Kevin Chamberlin, Adam Armus and Kay Foster (Episode Writers and Supervising Producers)

Commentary on "Unexpected" by Greg Beeman (Episode Director and Co-Executive Producer), Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Jeph Loeb (Episode Writer and Co-Executive Producer)

Commentary on "Company Man" by Jack Coleman, Allan Arkush (Episode Director and Executive Producer) and Bryan Fuller (Co-Executive Producer and Episode Writer)

Commentary on "Parasite" by Allan Arkush (Executive Producer), Jimmy Jean-Louis and Christopher Zatta (Episode Writer)

Mind Reader Game - Matt Parkman's mind reading abilities reveal your inner Hero with a series of simple tests. You pick a number from 1-100, add the two digits together and subtract that from the original number. Then you find your hero on the next screen and he guesses your hero. He correctly picked mine!

Disc 6
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Deleted and Extended Scenes (2:05)
19. .07% - 1 Scene - Linderman's Missing Sword (:30)
20. Five Years Gone - 1 Scene - Old Friends (:43)
21. The Hard Part - 1 Scene - Marty, That's An Order (:54)

Commentary on ".07%" by Chuck Kim (Episode Writer), Andrew Chambliss (Asst. to Tim Kring) and Timm Keppler (Asst. to Dennis Hammer)

Commentary on "Five Years Gone" by Greg Grunberg, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Jack Coleman

Commentary on "The Hard Part" by Jason Kyson Lee, Noah Gray-Cabey and Ian Quinn (Stunt Coordinator)

Commentary on "Landslide" by Masi Oka, George Takei and Matthew Armstrong

Disc 7
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Commentary on "How to Stop an Exploding Man" by Tim Kring (Creator/Executive Producer & Episode Writer), Dennis Hammer (Executive Producer) and Allan Arkush (Executive Producer & Episode Director)

"Making of" (10:00) - From concept to pop culture phenomenon, a behind-the-scenes look at the hottest new series on television. Ths featurette includes interviews with Creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, Masi Oka, Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter, Adrian Pasdar, Greg Grunberg, Leoanrd Roberts, Co-Executive PRoducer Jeph Loeb and Sendhil Ramamurthy. It is divided into various sections: The Saga Begins, Casting, The First Screening and A Phenomenon Is Born. Tim talks about how he came up with the idea of the show and about superheroes. The actors talk about their characters. The casting was an easy process for them. Footage is shown from the first screening of the extended pilot at Comic Con in San Diego in 2006. The final section is about fan's reactions to the show. Overall, this was a decent featurette but I would have preferred a much longer, more in-depth special.

Special Effects (8:45) - The secrets behind the eye-popping visuals that give the Heroes their amazing powers. This featurette includes interviews with Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Kolpack, Masi Oka, 3D Artist Tony Ocampo and 2D Artists Ryan Wieber. The special effects are created in post production after everything is shot. The focus here is on the scene of Hiro first time-freezing moment of saving the red-ribboned girl from the truck.

The Stunts (10:22) - A back stage look at the show's hair-raising stunts. This featurette includes interviews with Stunt Coordinator Ian Quinn, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Masi Oka, George Takei, Zachary Quinto and Sendhil Ramamurthy. Ian Quinn talks about his background in stunts, his cameo as the firefighter, and how they try to let the actors do as much as possible to bring realism. The scenes covered here include Claire in the burning train wreckage, Nathan flying from the car and Heidi's accident, Peter being thrown off the roof, Hiro's sword fighting, and Mohinder's being stuck on the ceiling.

Profile of Artist Tim Sade (11:26) - A look at the Eisner Award-winning comic book artist (Spiderman, Batman, Daredevil) behind much of the Manga-influenced artwork used in the show. This featurette includes interviews with Tim Sale and Santiago Cabrera. Tim talks about his background as a comic book artist for 20 years and how he got involved with the show. It is interesting how he creates the artwork from the final finished scenes. Santiago Cabrera gives a tour of Isaac's loft. Tim talks about he met Santiago and gave him some tips for his character.

The Score (8:58) - Go behind the scenes with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (of Prince's The Revolution) as they create their ASCAP Award-winning musical score. This featurette includes interviews with composers Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin and audio engineer Michael Perfitt. They are interviewed in their studio where they create the music. They talk a little about the vocals of Shankar, how the score is identifiable by one note, and how they mix different instruments from around the world. They do about 30 minutes of music per episode. I think they do an excellent job on the score. Hopefully somebody will release a score album like other series, such as Lost or 24.

Sneak Peeks (6:11) - Trailers for Friday Night Lights, House, Las Vegas, The Office, 30 Rock, Miami Vice, Nissan, Bring It On: All or Nothing

Final Comments: A truly outstanding set for a remarkable show! This was my favorite new drama from last season. I was hooked from the very first episode and liked everything about it. The storylines, actors, character backgrounds, music, stunts and visual effects - everything works for a thrilling ride. Die-hard fans will want to relive the excitement and enjoy the many hours of special features to learn new facts about the show. Others can discover it for the first time and prepare to start watching Season 2 in a few weeks. I can't wait for the second season to see what they have in store. New season, new story begins September 24 on NBC!

-- Reviewed by Todd
(5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Heroes Official Site
Heroes TV.com Page
Heroes Internet Movie Database Page
Heroes Wikipedia Page

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